Monday, October 17, 2011

"We must take the pass over the mountain!!!"

Huashan Mountain, as the Taoists call it, the "Flower" mountain. This was a life changing experience, even as we drove up to and parked at this place, the Mountain ridge was veiled in mist. To this, we battled with waves of people to get tickets to take on the mountain. It was such a beautiful sight, there is just something mystical and magical about mountains and these were NO exception. It really did not matter what I thought, every moment of my day was filled with J.R.R. Tolkien's legends and stories. This had to be one of the most amazing highlights of my entire life. As you can get a small feeling for in the pictures, this was just what we saw upon arrival, I could just feel the ancient legends and lore of the Celts and Vikings just pouring from my veins as I walked up and prepared to truck to the base of where we would begin the longest, most dangerous day of my life.

It was like something from the gates of paradise, to be honest I could not even imagine what my eyes were seeing when I was there. It was as if the very hand of the Heavens reached down and painted perfection upon the landscape. I did not know at this time, while my jaw was on the floor and my eyes were drinking in the sight, that I would be tested to the very edge of my safe zones, that my very life was in peril and that one false step could be my last.

So I ascended to the cloud veiled heavens, tearing away my earthly failures, forgetting my wounds and my pain. This may have been a Taoist mountain but there was a man seeking the face of God there. I have lived for years in shadow kept darkness, longing for the chance to feel the Son again. Here, thousands of miles from my home and the people I love I found Him again, by no means does that mean I am a good man. On the contrary, it has taken me a journey across the world, into the mountains, and into the jaws of some of my deepest fears for me to realize how broken and poor I am. The red cloth you see represented on the chains are prayers, hopes, dreams. Things that people bring to the mountain to have fulfilled. Sadly they did not have one that was black so that I could leave a marker for the darkness that I left behind. I left sorrow, fear, hatred, and so many other foul things behind on North Peak that I didnt even realize it until my in depth work now.

The journey down was an even bigger test. If you have ever seen Lord of the Rings, Return of the King. You will know that Sam and Frodo had to climb a horrific looking stairway, so hardcore looking that you would never imagine that it really existed... I am here to tell you that it does and that I climbed it. When you go down a stairway like that with nothing but a chain between you and a 7000 foot drop it changes you, especially when you know that there is no other way but the way you must go. I find it interesting that sometimes there is but one path, the hard way. I think we live our lives like this sometimes, we wish for simplicity, for an easy answer and all that is there is the hard way down. If you wish to ascend to the Heavens then you must be prepared for a perilous return.

It took many hours of walking but every step was worth it. Every moment to reflect, every second to realize that this life is not about me and that I cannot do everything by myself was worth it. I could return home now honestly in my heart but I know that I have more to do here. I think of you, my family and friends often and hope that your journeys lead you to places beautiful but I hope that you do not have to cleanse your mind, heart, and spirit like I. To ascend broken so that hope can be returned, may my return to you be without incident and may the same sun that shines on my face today, come to you tomorrow. Love to you my friends, brothers, and sisters.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Adventure, excitement... a jedi craves not these things.... good thing I am a member of the Fellowship!

So here I am, a couple of days post Xi'an and feeling much better after a bout of homesickness that welled up as my cherished brother was getting married far away from me and I could not attend. There is so much to talk about, lets start with the trip itself. So, Xi'an is one of the oldest standing cities still in China with much of its ancient architecture still intact. As you can see in the picture across from this text, much of the city was full of a feeling of ancient and modern mixing together. It was surreal to know I was walking through buildings that had been standing longer than my own Country had been even discovered. Xi'an itself is considered to be the end gate for the Silk road, so in turn of course the markets are very East meets
West when it comes to how things are traded and bartered. I for example, did much of my shopping in the Muslim district where the Bazaar was. It was almost like some kind of dream, being able to walk in and out of so many shops, having people hawking over items and fighting over prices. I have become a rather cut-throat haggler because of this district. Some of the shop keepers knew me rather well and would say "We like you but fear you, you fight for your price while many people from the west just buy things and we enjoy the profit." another lady had to pull me aside and ask "please, do not cut me so deep when you fight for your price..." It was interesting because even then, they were trying to find a weakness to play so that they could get the upper hand on me and my money.

There was just so much happening in the time we went there. We spent time at the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda and climbed to the top. Where we "supposedly" had a chance to be close to a finger of Buddha, which I suppose is pretty intense if you want his finger. After which we tried to go to an Indian restaurant that was nearby, in turn got lost and went the wrong direction then asked a man in a suit playing hackysack with his waitresses if he knew where this place was. He decided to take us ALL the way across 3 city blocks in his suit to take foreigners to a restaurant that was not his and asked nothing in return, I was very grateful to say the least but he insisted that he had to get back "most likely to hackysack..." Apart from that fun little bit of running around we walked a section of the wall and enjoyed some time to ourselves.

I also enjoyed watching an evening of Tang Dynasty music and theater and of course, who can go to Xi'an and not go see the Terracotta Warriors, this is my update for now. I need a totally separate blog post for my journey to Huashan Mountain and all of the stories that belong there so at this point I will leave you to read and enjoy my pictures. Until later this week when I am not so busy, ciao!